Genome Bioinformatics

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
08 March 2024


Requisites for this module
BS221 or BS222



Key module for

BSC C400 Genetics,
BSC C402 Genetics (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C403 Genetics (Including Placement Year),
BSC CK00 Genetics (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

The development of modern biological sciences is tightly linked to the development of computers. As a matter of fact, the 'fathers' of computational science (Turing and von Neumann) already used the first computers to solve biological problems. Many biological questions can only be answered with the help of computers. Thus, training life scientists to use computers to analyse biological data is paramount.

Bioinformatics is, in simple words, the use of computers to approach biological questions. It is a broad discipline that includes the use and development of software to analyse biological data, as well as the manipulation of vast amounts of data to extract biologically meaningful information. In recent years, bioinformatics has been crucial in the field of genomics. During the last two decades the amount of genomic sequences available, as well as functional data such as gene expression and chromatin structure, has grown to astronomical levels. Nowadays, the study of the structure, function and evolution of genomes can only be approached with appropriate computational tools.

Module aims

The aim of the module is:

  • To provide the student with a basic toolkit to approach the analysis of genome data, as well as an adequate theoretical framework.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Be competent in the use of standard command-line bioinformatics tools.

  2. Be able to build and search DNA databases.

  3. Understand the principles and practical applications of commonly-used DNA sequence analysis algorithms.

  4. Demonstrate the ability to process and analyse gene expression and epigenetic data.

  5. Demonstrate competence in the use of tools to assemble and annotate genomes.

  6. Demonstrate competence in functional annotation methods.

  7. Have a good appreciation of the statistical methodologies upon which different bioinformatics algorithms are based.

Module information

The emphasis of this module is on problem-based-learning; each topic is introduced by a lecture followed by a supervised session in the PC laboratory in which students follow detailed instructions that allow them to work through example datasets in order to understand and learn how to use and interpret commonly used methods. The sessions are supported by extensive documentation with guidance on further student-directed learning.

Some familiarity with computers is desirable, but the documentation is written such that students with no computational background can follow the instructions. All software used is Open Source and students can download, install and run in their own computers. Students will then be able to enhance their skills in their own private study.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 4-hour session per week.
  • Student managed learning.

Each session comprises of a 1-hour lecture and a 3-hour supervised PC class later in the week.

  • Four sessions cover genome assembly and gene expression.
  • Three sessions cover epigenetics and functional annotation.
  • Three sessions cover comparative genomics and a revision session.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay    20% 
Coursework   SPF Report & Data Analysis    75% 
Practical   Exercises during practical sessions    5% 

Additional coursework information

  • Both coursework elements will involve DAI including assessment of understanding of methodology to be submitted in SPF.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Antonio Marco, email:
Dr Antonio Marco, Guest Lecturer, GLA's
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

Dr Thomas Clarke
University of East Anglia
Senior lecturer/associate professor
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 15 (37.5%) hours available to students:
12 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
13 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

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